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Preventing Adverse Health Effects from Nanotechnology

Nanotechnology in the United Kingdom Market Report


When we say nanotechnology it is small and small. One nanometer is the size of 10 hydrogen atoms, put side by side. So you get the idea that we're talking about something that's extremely small. Something that's generally only visible by electron microscopes, So 10, hydrogen atoms side by side would be one nanometer. So what is the benefit? Why are we making such small molecules? 

When we cut large pieces to small pieces, when you get down around 60 nanometers, you start to see new scientific properties. They are more conductive, They're more magnetic, they're stronger, they're more reactive, and you can do a lot of things with that. 

New nanomaterials make them more suitable for different applications in different industries. However, these materials may create threats of environment pollution or even harmful effects on human health . Our knowledge regarding the safety of used nanomaterials in food and nutrition industries is low. Also, note that some nanomaterials enter the human body. A report by the British Royal Society notes that we may face a nanotoxicity crisis in the future.

Industries which can cause main health issues by nanoparticles

Nanotechnology and food production

Increasing crop yields is a primary goal of farmers in undeveloped countries. Nanotechnologies may improve the effectiveness of pesticides and fertilizer to boost crop yields. Also nutrition delivery or genetic manipulation of the nanostructure of plants and animals may also be possible to further improve farming yields. 

Food processing

Today, people are seeking more nutritional supplements.This is because many nutrients in food are destroyed in the digestive tract, which is actually a sophisticated organ. A system or nanocarrier can be used to prevent this. Such a system is called a “nutrition delivery system”. The Chitosan nanocarrier is one of these systems. Nanotechnology can be used to improve food processing yields and decrease waste or spoilage of nutrition. To prevent adverse effects on consumer health, nutrition delivery systems must be made with biodegradable materials.

Food packaging and safety

Using degradable, biodegradables, and smart packaging (containing sensors and nanocomposites), edible packaging (using lipids, proteins, polysaccharides, etc. have been present in food packaging nowadays. But there is a main problem with using those. They have poor mechanical properties. The unique properties of many nanomaterials can address these kinds of problems.

Water purification

A lack of clean drinking water is a common problem in developing countries. Water purification challenges have attracted the attention of many scientists who use nanomembrane technologies that use materials such as carbon nanotubes. This nanomaterial is already considered a high risk material for human health and the environment. 

What are the possible health effects of nanotechnology?

We're about 19 years into the commercialization of nanotechnology. So in the 90s there was a lot of research but products started coming out in the late 90s early 2000s. We're now in 2022.

According to a report which published in 2013,

  • It currently lists 1814 consumer Nano products from 622 companies in 32 countries. 
  • The Health and Fitness category contains the most products (762, or 42% of the total). 
  • Silver is the most frequently used nanomaterial (435 products, or 24%);
  • 49% of the products (889) included in the CPI (Consumer Products Inventory) do not provide the composition of the nanomaterial used in them. 
  • About 29% of the CPI (528 products) contain nanomaterials suspended in a variety of liquid media and dermal contact is the most likely exposure scenario from their use. 
  • The majority (1288 products, or 71%) of the products do not present enough supporting information to corroborate the claim that nanomaterials are used.

According to this report we can see that manufacturers haven’t presented enough information to do tests about nano products. 

  • Nanoparticles can damage lungs. One reason for this is that they are ultra fine particles. Another reason is that nanoparticles can carry metals and hydrocarbons into the lung. This is how nanoparticles damage the respiratory system.
  • Nanoparticles can enter into the human body through skin, lungs, and digestive system. This may help to create free radicals. Free radicals are chemical compounds which have an unpaired electron. Then it reacts with another molecule and makes a free radical. These free radicals can damage cell DNA.
  • Nanoparticles can cross the blood brain barrier. What the blood brain barrier does is selectively transport molecules to the brain. Nanoparticles can cross it. Therefore it can cause severe problems. 
  • Nanoparticles are not naturally occurring substances that are new to the human body. So a natural immunity can not work against it. 

How to prevent from health effects from nanotechnology,

Actually this is a very difficult question to answer. Because why, As we said above, when you get down around 60 nanometers, we can see new chemical characteristics. So the effect from a nanomaterial can vary according to the shape, size, crystal structures, surface coatings, surface texture, surface charge, surface reactivity, and other factors. But to get maximum use from the technology we have to consider managing those factors. 

There are 4 main controlling methods,

  1. Elimination 

When controlling the elimination, We can use nanomaterial for only essential matters. Remove nano materials from unessential places. 

  1. Substitution

Sometimes we can replace nanomaterials with normal size particles. And we can change the form of the nanomaterials. 

Ex - Dry powder is more prone to spread. So we can use liquid form instead of dry powder. 

  1. Engineering controls

Engineering controls are strategies designed to protect workers from hazardous conditions by placing a barrier between the worker and the hazard or by removing a hazardous substance through air ventilation.

  1. Administrative controls

Administrative controls are training, procedure, policy, or shift designs that lessen the threat of a hazard to an individual.

  1. Personal Protective equipment

Personal protective equipment, commonly referred to as "PPE", is equipment worn to minimize exposure to hazards that cause serious workplace injuries and illnesses. Personal protective equipment may include items such as gloves, safety glasses and shoes, earplugs or muffs, hard hats, respirators, or coveralls, vests and full body suits.


Nanotechnology is the key technology of the 21st century. In recent years, nanomaterials are widely used in industries. The effects of nanomaterials on human health are still under study. And also it can also give effects to the environment also. So we should identify what industries cause the most serious problems to health and we must get action to reduce risks of nanomaterials and get the maximum use of nano technology ensuring the protection of the environment and human beings.

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